GREENSBORO, N.C. — Tar Heel fans nationwide call this a difficult day. They're shocked and saddened - but also grateful to have had 18 seasons with Roy Williams leading the way.
Whether you're a graduate of the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, like Hayes Holderness...
"Born and bred, and when I die, I'll be a Tar Heel dead."
Or a lifelong supporter, like Max Gongaware and his mother Pam Kohl...
"It should be noted that neither of us actually went to UNC-Chapel Hill but I would take our fandom over anybody's fandom."
The love for Tar Heel basketball runs deep, as does the love for the head coach.
"I think that he embodies the Tar Heel family, the Carolina way a lot of Carolina folks will talk about," Gongaware said. "Whenever somebody has a really nice pass or something like that, Coach Williams points to the passer from the sidelines... It's always great to acknowledge not just the person who made the basket, but the person who helped make it happen."
"He cares about everybody as a basketball player, but he cares about everybody first and foremost as a person," Holderness said. "Roy has always wanted people to develop as a person more than a basketball player, with the basketball skills being secondary."
Hayes Holderness has been a UNC fan since he was a kid, and for the past 18 seasons has admired Roy Williams and the way he led the team.
"The thing that struck me the most about today - that I was saddest about - was that Roy didn’t make the comment of 'I’m ready to quit coaching, I’m tired,' or whatever. He made the comment several times that 'I don’t think I’m the right person for the job anymore.' I strongly disagree with that. I don’t think that there is a better man or woman on this planet who is a better person to be the coach of UNC basketball, the face of UNC basketball, than Roy Williams," Holderness said.
He's not the only superfan.
"It was pretty shocking. My first thought was oh, this is probably just an April Fool's joke," said Gongaware.
For years, he and his mother have shared a love of the Tar Heels and have attended 15 ACC Tournaments. Their fandom is so much so that 18 years ago, the theme for his bar mitzvah was UNC Basketball - with Coach Williams' picture on the cookies.
Despite their sudden sadness, each of these fans wishes their beloved coach all the best.
"I mean, as sad as I am and the grief that we have, it's great for him to choose when to go, and to be able to spend time with his family and grandkids," said Kohl.
"I know you won't pat yourself on the back, but there are a lot of people who will do it for you, because you have been a godsend to the University of North Carolina and everybody that you interact with," said Holderness. "Thank you."